Thursday, May 1, 2014

Monthly Bird #5: Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Here's All About Birds's description: "Bursting with black, white, and rose-red, male Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are like an exclamation mark at your bird feeder or in your binoculars."
And I agree entirely.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak, male.
In my opinion, the male Rose-breasted Grosbeak is a well-dressed bird, with its black suit, white undershirt and blood red tie. These are the key field marks for identifying one, along with the two white wing bars. The female can be tricky. It's brown with streaks on its breast, and its bill is the pale color of its eyebrow. The tricky part is that it looks so much like the female of another species, the Black-headed Grosbeak. I think the only difference is the Black-headed has a blacker head and a yellower eyebrow. Two other species it can be mixed up with are the females of both the Purple Finch and the Red-winged Blackbird.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak, female.
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks eat a huge variety of insects, seeds and berries. According to All About Birds again, they eat a lot of berries: "elderberries, blackberries, raspberries, mulberries, juneberries, and seeds of smartweed, pigweed, foxtail, milkweed, plus sunflower seeds, garden peas, oats, wheat, tree flowers, tree buds, and cultivated fruit." And that's just the berries they eat - Can you even imagine how many bugs and seeds they consume?

Like many birds, elegant grosbeak is commonly found in the eastern US and Canada, wintering in Central America and northern parts of South America, along with the Caribbean Islands. Its favorite habitat is the deciduous-coniferous forest. Other spots you might see one are: suburban areas, parks, gardens, and orchards, as well as shrubby forest edges next to streams, ponds, marshes, roads, or pastures.

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